Themes are and were always a means to an end. Several ends, actually. I thought themes gave the cast a point of interest and differentiation. It gave us something to talk about. It gave me a starting point from which to construct my weekly playlist, solving what would sometimes have been a case of blank paper-itis. It was a bit of an intellectual exercise both for me and for the viewers who were interested in that approach. It made the act of coming up with song requests something akin to a game. And I guess it let me show off a little: "Hey, look at the nifty theme I came up with this week, and look at all the songs I found fir it."
But really the main purpose of the themes was to force both me and the viewers to think outside their tendencies and come up with songs we otherwise would be unlikely to hear. Craig recently commented on his cast that almost every week someone requests a particular Tears for Fears song. That's what I wanted to avoid: people repeatedly asking for what they already know. There is so much good content out there that is rarely or never heard, that is what I wanted to feature. And still do.
I think some viewers might have missed this point. Sometimes we get requests that seem solely to match the letter of the theme without really being a song that most people would be glad to hear. I'll continue to ask people to put their best song ideas forward, not simply songs that qualify based on the theme but are otherwise mediocre or worse.
And that is one reason I am going to reduce the role of themes this year. The process was starting to get in the way of a better cast. In my humble opinion!